back to article Amazon coughs up $62m to shoo away claims it stole driver tips, cut pay rates without telling them

Amazon will pay $61.7m to drivers it is said to have screwed over by stealing their tips for three years, only stopping when America's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched an investigation. The ecommerce giant’s “Amazon Flex” service was launched in 2015 and designed for independent drivers who could use their own vehicles …

  1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Stop

    Just say no

    When I ditched Amazon a few years ago, I felt a brief pang of loss at giving up the convenience of Amazon as well as some of the content on Amazon Prime Video, but I soon got over it. There is literally nothing I've found that I can't get through other outlets, and it turns out that I can live without the specific entertainment offered by Amazon Prime Video or the convenience of same-day/next-day shipping.

    Secondarily, tipping needs to be abolished or at least relegated to a truly optional gratuity for exceptional services rendered and replaced with VAT. In the US, it has a deeply racist past and is used in the present to screw over working class people by underpaying their regular wage.

    1. Tomato Krill

      Re: Just say no

      Precisely this, and the ‘sacrifice’ of going without the odd bit of content (roulette wheel that whole side of this anyway, there one week gone the next as is true for Netflix) is in my view well worth it for making a moral stand and giving business to alternatives and supporting jobs with those instead

    2. Danny 5
      Unhappy

      Re: Just say no

      I did some minor shopping on their webshop, but have stopped doing so early last year. It's just scandal after scandal after scandal, that company is pure evil.

      Plenty of people still so little problem with their actions though, judging by the still massive amount of money they make.

    3. Why Not?

      Re: Just say no

      Thanks for the link interesting.

      Yes it seems the government has colluded with employers to undercut the minimum wage and it should stop.

      It does seem to be a very Big corporation view that ripping off your employees is acceptable. You would have thought Amazon and others would realise employees are your best asset they will build your bottom line if you let them. I thought Bezos understood this.

    4. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Just say no

      "There is literally nothing I've found that I can't get through other outlets"

      Indeed, not only have I been able to continue buying anything I want after ditching Amazon, it actually tends to be a much better experience overall. No more digging through hundreds of pages of counterfeit crap from fake companies, only to be shipped a fake anyway since Amazon just mixes everything up in its warehouses. No more constant nagging to buy the exact thing I just bought because despite all the spying Amazon still can't figure out how personalised adverts are actually supposed to work. And not really any loss in convenience, given that most places are able to ship orders within a day or two anyway.

      I originally started using Amazon because it was actually a convenient place to find just about anything you wanted, in much the same way as department stores and then malls became popular previously. Even if you don't care about worker welfare, monopolistic behaviour, and so on, I think most people would find themselves happier without using Amazon just because of the improvement in shopping experience provided just about everywhere else (meaning real shops of course, not other unregulated flea markets like ebay).

  2. oiseau Silver badge
    WTF?

    Utterly absurd ...

    In agreeing to the settlement, Amazon does not admit any wrongdoing.

    So ...

    Amazon pays a thin shred of what they propably stole, everything goes away and they become innocent?

    Incredible.

    This should have cost them a good precentage of their revenue during those years so they don't try it again.

    That is the only way these bastards learn: through a nice big hole in their profits.

    O.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: That is the only way these bastards learn: through a nice big hole in their profits.

      And the best way we can deliver that is to stop using them.

    2. Danny 5

      Re: Utterly absurd ...

      That's how punishment works in the EU, the US should take notice. Just fine them a percentage of their revenue, that will have them shaking in their boots. $62 million is a pittance to their bottom line, they're laughing all the way to the bank.

      1. Dimmer

        Re: Utterly absurd ...

        When you pay 62mil to the government, it is a bribe to look the other way. Bribes are often called fines or licenses to hide what they really are. If I were to charge you to allow you to do something threaten you if you don’t, it would be extortion. If I threaten to do damage to you for something you had done, but not to me, it would be blackmail. Government would be for the people if the whole amount goes to those effected. They were already paid by our taxes to enforce the law and that is all they should get.

    3. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Re: Utterly absurd ...

      I'll bet that there are quite a few Amazon drivers in jail for stealing packages worth about the same or even less, in % terms as what Bezos stole.

    4. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Re: Utterly absurd ...

      "That is the only way these bastards learn: through a nice big hole in their profits."

      Actually, I don't think you are correct. Until theft BY a corporation is treated the same way as theft FROM a corporation, nothing changes.

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: Utterly absurd ...

        “Until theft BY a corporation is treated the same way as theft FROM a corporation, nothing changes.” Exactly where is the punishment giving back what you stole is not punishment.

        If a person is found to have defrauded Amazon of $1mi they will have committed a crime and if found guilty will have to pay back the $1mil and will be punished, most likely a jail sentence. People can’t just agree to pay back what they stole and not admit any wrongdoing.

        Maybe every US citizen should become a corporation for a get out of jail free card.

  3. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Bronze badge

    100% of tips _did_ go to the drivers

    Up to the point that tips > wages.

    and in next week's news: Amazon tries to reclaim taxes paid on "absorbed" tips payments.

    1. Sampler

      Re: 100% of tips _did_ go to the drivers

      I guess they never did advertise 100% of wages...

  4. Flak
    Flame

    Immoral and wrong

    enough said!

  5. John Jennings Silver badge

    Looks like they should have had a union..... Oh, they are trying to squash that in Georgia...

    The FTC is great and all for this - but it took them 3 years (almost 4). I wonder if employees that left in disgust get their cut?

    Amazon is obviously and irredeemably evil by abusing perhaps those with the lowest incomes in their organisation. I wonder if the manager who proposed this abuse gets fired? Then their manager who approved it? This has to go pretty far up the corporate ladder to get it approved, if you consider all the systems and teams involved in fraud - for that is what it is.

    Will it stop someone using AWS, Audible, Kindle, Prime, Grocery, Trader Joes, Twich, Alexa, GoodReads, IMDB, EERO Routers, Health Navigator, PillPack, Ring, or the mother site though? Probably not.... probably too big to avoid for some services now.

    The company needs a Ma Bell do over. Microsoft got its wings clipped when it was a lot smaller than this behemoth.

    1. John Jennings Silver badge

      Oh, aye, and the Washington post.

      Bezos has resigned today - though its unlikely the underlying company will change.

    2. cd

      Trader Joes is owed by Aldi I think.

      Were you thinking of Whole Foods?

      1. John Jennings Silver badge

        Yup, I stand corrected, thank you, kind sir!

    3. WhereAmI?

      I was an Audible member before it got borged. I did look around for another source of audiobooks but failed to find anywhere that could match price and range. As for Amazon itself: a long time ago I made it my port of absolute last resort because of bad practices.

    4. Someone Else Silver badge

      There's a reason for all this, of course...

      The FTC is great and all for this - but it took them 3 years (almost 4).

      The only reason it's not still going on is that tRump had/has an ongoing feud with Bezos, as Bezos, being the publisher of WaPo (until just now), has been calling out the (former) Asshat-in-Chief since before said Asshat was elected. If Fuckerberg was running Amazon, all would be roses and chocolate for them.

      1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

        Re: There's a reason for all this, of course...

        This will be the same Washington Post that declared Trump was a Russian agent? Whose "journalists" won awards for claiming this?

    5. Trygve Henriksen

      I have a Kindle...

      And since I'm in Norway, we're supposed to use the US site for Kindle books. And it won't even stop suggesting books that when I check them out are 'not for sale in your region'.

  6. aregross
    Pint

    Here Here!

    "The company needs a Ma Bell do over. Microsoft got its wings clipped when it was a lot smaller than this behemoth.."

    Well said! 'av a pint o me!

  7. Imhotep Silver badge

    Accountability

    Why aren't the individuals involved in what is theft being held personally responsible?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. naive Silver badge

      Re: Accountability

      It is a flaw in the legal system that the DA is not obliged to go after the people who organized his theft, if true, it resembles a case of conspiracy to conduct criminal acts, i.e. defrauding employees and violating contracts.

      Once management in companies becomes aware they may personally be held responsible if they engage in, or become complicit in criminal acts, they probably would be less inclined to do so.

      Accepting the payoff can be compared to not prosecuting mafia bosses, since it is not them personally who do shootings and drug trafficking. It are always humans performing criminal acts, not organizations.

  8. ecofeco Silver badge

    It's a start

    But I have to wonder if the drivers will actually see ALL of their stolen money repaid?

    Me, cynical? Nope. Just looking at the history of American corporations.

  9. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Why isn't there a fine?

    The way Amazon gets rid of this is as unfair as Amazon's practice towards the drivers.

    Amazon doesn't give a fuck about the strong words of the commissioner. Hit it in the wallet!

    For now, I'm still an Amazon customer, but I'm more and more disturbed by its greedy and unfair behaviour. If Amazon still goes that way, I won't be the only one to look elsewhere.

  10. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Moral of the story

    The moral of the story is, if you are going to tip, do it in cash.

    1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Re: Moral of the story

      This. Why the heck would I ever trust a tipping feature in apps like Uber and Ola?

  11. Matter_of_Perspective

    Back in my day..............

    I remember at the turn of the century M$ was sue and prosecuted left right and centre with anti-trust cases their doesn't seem the same appetite for Google, Amazon, Apple, M$ etc. anymore........

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: Back in my day..............

      Bush II's mob quashed the outcome of the judgement[s], so since then there seemed little point in alienating one's powerful donors.

      'He who pays the piper...'

      .

      And more recently we have returned to the normal old ways of Bushobama. with even the same people in governance, so nothing will change.

      This particular ruling is a midge in the depths of the Amazon.

  12. mikecoppicegreen

    The ultimate expression of free enterprise

    is the stocking mask and the sawn-off shotgun.*

    Anti-monopolistic, anti trust, labour protection and inside trading legislation which are punitive and enforced are the tools needed to ensure that stuff like this doesn't happen. While large corporations fund politicians, though, there are limits to the likelihood of sound regulation being put in place.

    *I got this from Mike Harding, the UK comedian/folk singer, but he may have got it from somewhere else!

    1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Re: The ultimate expression of free enterprise

      " The ultimate expression of free enterprise is the stocking mask and the sawn-off shotgun"

      You couldn't be wronger. The clue is in the word "free". What you see here in action is crony-capitalism. It has close ties to those in power who are supposed to be regulating the market.

  13. adam 40 Silver badge

    Time and time again I see this

    If a person steals $62M from a company, they go to jail, probably for a very long time.

    But if a company steals $62M from a load of people, it's just "a mistake", no jail time served.

    It's time this situation was remedied. CEO's and CFO's need to serve time.

    1. onemark03 Bronze badge

      CEO's and CFO's need to serve time.

      You couldn't agree with me more!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: CEO's and CFO's need to serve time.

        I agreed as well and removed my post.

        /ninja'd

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Turn this around...

    If an Amazon employee had been caught stealing revenue from Amazom and then tried covering their tracks using decptive billing....

    Do you think they would be allowed to get away with claiming no wrong doing or do you think the employee would be doing jail time?

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